This article will help you understand the concept of needs versus wants and provide you with tips and tricks to make smart decisions, prioritize needs over wants, and develop mindful spending habits. It’s time to learn how to decipher what you need and what you don’t!
Table of contents
- What are Needs?
- What are Wants?
- Why It Is Important To Distinguish Between Needs and Wants
- Prioritizing Needs Over Wants
- Practicing Mindful Spending Habits
- Creating a Budget & Sticking to It
- Common Pitfalls to Avoid
When it comes to distinguishing between needs and wants, it’s important to start with a clear understanding of what each term means.
What are Needs?
The term “need” is commonly employed as a verb to convey the idea of necessitating something or having a strong requirement for it. Additionally, as a noun, it refers to both the absence or lack of something. Oftentimes, the word “need” implies a desire for something vital and crucial, or at least perceived in such a way.
Example: All living beings need food to survive.
Needs are the necessities of life that are required for survival, growth, and development.
Our Basic Needs: What We Need to Survive
Our basic needs are the things we require in order to live and stay healthy, so they are essential to our very survival. They are not optional, so they should always come first. These needs include:
All living organisms depend heavily on water because it is a vital nutrient for every cell. Up to 60% of the human adult body is water (this percentage is higher in children). Water is crucial for sustaining healthy organ functions as well as for removing waste, keeping the body hydrated and at the proper temperature. Without water, we could experience headaches, exhaustion, and other health issues as a result of dehydration. Drink plenty of water each day!
We must eat in order to give our bodies the fuel and nutrition they require to carry out their daily functions. Food contains different types of nutrients, such us carbohydrates, fats, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. The energy in food is measured in units called ”calories”. Healthy eating is very important for children because it assures a healthy growth, supports the development of muscles, strengthens the bones, and boosts the immunity. It also helps in maintaining healthy skin, teeth and eyes.
Your sleep cycle is regulated by an internal “body clock” that determines when you feel tired and ready for bed or alert and ready for a new day. Our bodies require sleep in order to rejuvenate and regenerate. Adults require 7-8 hours of sleep each night. However, kids should sleep more since sleep aids their growth. Without enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. This can impair your capacity to focus, think clearly, and form or process memories.
Clothes aren’t vital for our physical survival because the human body can function without them in many environments. However, clothes do play an important role in protecting us from the elements (such as sunlight or cold), and in maintaining our body temperature, which is essential for our overall well-being and health. Nowadays, clothes have also cultural and social significance and are often worn to express our individuality, status, or beliefs.
We need a safe and secure place to live in, in order to shield ourselves from the elements and enjoy solitude or privacy. Having a shelter improves, therefore, a person’s quality of life. And, when viewed as a “Home”, the shelter becomes the place where family members interact and where children are raised properly.
Besides our basic needs (physiological needs or needs for safety), there are also some other needs: psychological needs and needs for self-fulfillment. These are the so-called “Growth Needs”.
Psychological Needs: Feeling Loved and Valued
According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943, 1954), after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, a third level of human needs appears – Psychological Needs. These needs have a social aspect to them, as they involve feelings of belongingness, self-worth, esteem, and accomplishment.
Examples of Belongingness Needs may include friendship, trust, receiving and giving affection, and love. This need is especially strong in childhood.
The desire to be accepted, appreciated, and respected by others represents our Esteem Needs. This kind of need is, according to Maslow, crucial for children and their emotional development. Kids need esteem and external validation to feel confident in their own unique abilities and talents, recognize their worth, and the value of their contribution to the world.
Self-fulfillment Needs: Embodying Our Full Potential
Self-actualization Needs are the highest level in Maslow’s hierarchy, and describe one’s desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”. This level of need is all about seeking personal growth and peak experiences in life.
But “self-fulfillment” can mean something different for each and one of us, as we all have different interests, capabilities, and aspirations. One can desire to become a well-known artist, while in another, the need for self-actualization may be expressed athletically, for example.
As Maslow said in his study “A Theory of Human Motivation” (1943): “It is quite true that man lives by bread alone — when there is no bread. But what happens to man’s desires when there is plenty of bread and when his belly is chronically filled? At once other (and “higher”) needs emerge and these, rather than physiological hungers, dominate the organism. And when these in turn are satisfied, again new (and still “higher”) needs emerge and so on”.
So, are all your needs met? Take a moment to think about it.
What are Wants?
Now that we know and understand more about our needs, let’s see what our wants are.
The verb “to want” is frequently used to express “to wish for” or “to crave, desire” and, as a noun, it denotes “something desired.” When someone uses the word “want” it often means that they greatly desire something, but that thing is not essential or required.
Example: I want to play the Lego Movie 2 video game.
Things that we want but are not vital to our survival or well-being are known to us as wants. We might desire a new bike or a console for playing games, for example, but we don’t need to have these things in order to live or be healthy.
Let’s explore together some examples of needs versus wants:
- If hydration is a need, wishing to drink a specific soda is a want
- If food is a need, wishing to eat ice cream is a want
- If air is a need, wishing to have an air purifier is a want
- If sleep is a need, wishing to buy a sleeping bag is a want
- If clothing is a need, wishing to have jeans from a certain label is a want
- If shelter is a need, wishing to live in a condominium is a want
- If movement and playtime are needs, wishing to buy the latest toy on the market is a want
- If belonging is a need, wishing to connect with your friends on Facebook is a want
- If esteem is a need, wishing to gain popularity is a want
- If education is a need, wishing to receive good grades in school, to read a certain book, or to visit a museum are all wants
Take time to reflect on your desires and wants. Consider the things that bring you joy and satisfaction. Recognizing your wants allows you to prioritize and allocate resources wisely, and develop mindful spending habits. But take please note of the fact that none of our wants would ever be possible without first meeting our needs!
QUIZ: Needs versus Wants
1.Which of the following is a basic need?
a) A video game
b) A cozy bed to sleep in
c) A new toy
d) A fancy dress to wear
2. What is the importance of our basic needs?
a) They help us have fun
b) They keep our bodies healthy and functioning properly
c) They help us make friends
d) They are not important
Why It Is Important To Distinguish Between Needs and Wants
Understanding the difference between needs and wants is essential because it allows us to prioritize what truly matters to us and avoid impulsive judgments. This is especially true if we are confronted with the decision of buying something. We must make wise and informed choices because, while our wants may very well entertain us, they may also prevent us from meeting our needs for growth and self-fulfillment.
By ensuring our needs are met first, we lay a strong foundation for a balanced and fulfilling life. Wants, while enjoyable, should be pursued responsibly, considering their impact on our overall well-being and the well-being of others.
To differentiate between needs and wants, consider first whether you actually require that thing or if it’s just a temporary desire (a want). Ask yourself: “Is this something I need to survive or something that would just make my life more enjoyable?”
And remember, just because we want something doesn’t mean we need it!
Prioritizing Needs Over Wants
Prioritizing needs over wants is extremely important, especially when making important decisions. Writing a list of must-haves versus nice-to-haves is one way to establish your priorities and to start developing mindful spending habits. This can be applied to everything from your daily routines to major life decisions.
For instance, if you have some money set aside and you’re trying to choose between buying a new toy or keeping it for a rainy day, it’s typically wiser to save the money. The toy might be fun for a little while, but having money saved up can provide security and peace of mind.
Probably you’ve noticed that our needs can have a big influence on the things we choose to buy. For example, if you need a new pair of shoes because your old ones are worn out, you’ll prioritize buying shoes over buying something you want but don’t need, isn’t it? Our wants, however, also influence our buying style, leading to impulsive buying and even overspending.
QUIZ: Prioritizing Needs Over Wants
1.What is an example of a need that might influence our buying style?
a) A new toy
b) A new pair of shoes because the old ones are worn out
c) A new video game
2.Why is it important to prioritize needs over wants?
a) Our wants are more important than our needs
b) Our needs are things we cannot live without
c) Our wants provide us with happiness
Practicing Mindful Spending Habits
Developing mindful spending habits can help us make smart choices and be aware of our needs versus wants. In this way, we can make sure we spend our money wisely. But how exactly can we decide how to spend our money in a way that meets our needs? Here are some tips for you:
Tips for Mindful Spending Habits and Smart Choices
Identify your needs: Make a list of the things you really need to buy (the practice of writing down a list before you go shopping will help you develop in time mindful spending habits and reduce impulsive purchases).
Reflect Before Purchasing: Pause and reflect before buying something new. Is this item aligned with your needs, values, and long-term goals?
Research first, buy after: Make sure you’re getting the best value for the money you pay by doing some research before buying. For instance, search for product reviews online and compare prices at different stores.
Reduce excessive spending: Keep an eye on your money and avoid buying unnecessary things. Do you really need the most recent model of a LEGO set, for example, if your current one is still fun to play with?
Differentiate Between Impulse and Intention: Avoid impulsive buying. Give yourself time to evaluate the necessity and importance of the item or experience before making a decision. One helpful tip is to wait 24 hours before making a non-essential purchase.
Adopting mindful spending habits doesn’t hinder you from taking enjoyment in the good things in life. However, it means being fully aware and intentional about how you’re spending your money. By practicing mindful spending habits, your buying decisions start to align with your needs and ideals. You can also save money, reduce clutter, and feel more in control when it comes to your financial well-being.
Creating a Budget & Sticking to It
Making a budget may first appear difficult, but it’s a quick and easy approach to prioritize needs over wants and make sure we are handling our money wisely. Nowadays it’s way too easy to get caught up in the moment and buy something that we don’t necessarily need. However, by creating a budget, we can prioritize our spending.
It’s crucial that we consider all of our expenses when making a budget. So we need to include the costs for groceries, transportation, and any other needs. Once we have a clear grasp of our costs, we can allocate money for our wants (such as entertainment or enjoyable activities). It is wise to include in our budget also a component for savings and to stick with our financial monthly plan.
The 50/30/20 Budget Rule
In 2006, US Senator Elizabeth Warren published the book “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan”, introducing the 50/30/20 budget rule. This rule is quite simple. It states that we should spend up to 50% on our needs (must-haves) and obligations (must-dos). Another 30% should be for our wants and desires. The rest of 20% should be saved for future “rainy days” and emergencies.
Benefits of the 50/30/20 Budget Rule:
Ease of use: The 50/30/20 Budget Rule is easy to comprehend and apply even for kids. However, as with any other budget strategy or plan, it requires consistency on our part.
Prioritizing needs over wants: This model of the 50/30/20 budget gives our fundamental needs a top priority. Like this, we can make sure that all the living costs are covered.
Setting saving goals: With the 50/30/20 Budget Rule, 20% of our money goes into saving. In this way, we establish healthy financial habits and build safety for our future.
QUIZ: The 50/30/20 Budget Rule
1.The 50/30/20 Budget Rule suggests to prioritize needs over wants and divide your income into three categories. What are these categories and what percentage of your income should you allocate to each category?
a) Savings (50%), Fun (30%), Necessities (20%)
b) Necessities (50%), Fun (30%), Savings (20%)
c) Fun (50%), Necessities (30%), Savings (20%)
2. Let’s say you receive $100 as your monthly allowance. According to the 50/30/20 Budget Rule, how much money should you allocate for savings, fun, and necessities?
a) Savings: $20, Fun: $30, Necessities: $50
b) Savings: $50, Fun: $30, Necessities: $20
c) Savings $30, Fun: $50, Necessities: $20
Common Pitfalls to Avoid
When it comes to separating needs from wants, there are a few common mistakes we ought to stay away from. One error would be to confuse immediate gratification with long-term fulfillment. It’s easy to feel excited about buying something new or indulging in a treat. However it’s crucial to consider whether these actions will actually make us happier in the long run.
Another pitfall is succumbing to peer pressure or social expectations. We may feel pressure to keep up with the latest trends or to maintain a certain image. Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that our own values and priorities should guide our decisions. You can still practice mindful spending habits and prioritize needs over wants even if all your friends are choosing not to do the same.
Lastly, we may fall into the trap of thinking that more is always better. We may believe that having more possessions will make us happier, but in reality, excess can lead to clutter, stress, and dissatisfaction.
By being aware of these common pitfalls, we can make more intentional and fulfilling choices about what we truly need versus what we simply want.
“Do I REALLY need it?”
In today’s world, being able to point out the difference between needs and wants is a crucial skill to have. Knowing what our real needs are will help us make smarter decisions about our spending habits and avoid falling into the trap of constantly chasing after new possessions. Focusing on our needs rather than our wants can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life. So the next time you’re tempted to buy something new, ask yourself: “Do I REALLY need it?”
If learning about the concept of needs versus wants and mindful spending habits steered your curiosity and you want to discover more about how embracing challenges can help you succeed, I recommend you this article.
Copyright © 2023 All rights reserved